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Social Media: Not the 'Great Equalizer' After All
By: Jessica Cherok
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Social media may not be the great equalizer that it's been touted to be. A recent study by the Pew Research Internet Project found that people are not emboldened by sites such as Facebook or Twitter when it comes to speaking out about issues.

Hard to believe, right? After all, it seems like nearly everyone on the Internet has an opinion.

It comes down to whether or not you think people will agree with you. If you feel you are in the minority, you’re less likely to voice your opinion. That is apparently just as true for online as it is for real life.

That’s not to say that believing people will agree with you makes you more likely to post, or even speak your mind. In fact, the study found that regular social media users were actually less likely to share their opinions, “perpetuating the spiral of silence.”

Just what is the spiral of silence? It’s what happens when people, for fear of losing friends or creating confrontation, keep their mouths shut on controversial or minority opinions. According to the study, “social media users may have witnessed [those expressing] minority opinions experiencing ostracism…this might increase the perceived risk of opinion sharing in other settings.”

So much for social media giving voice to the voiceless.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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